Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rogue One


A Review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story  

by Gaylene Goodroad

Exhibit: Rogue One official poster[1]

Like its mega-blockbuster distant sequel, The Force Awakens (2015), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, was strategically released to capitalize on the Christmas box office market this year. The movie debuted globally at $270 million over the weekend, nudging Disney Studios over the $7 billion record,[2] which indicates that folks are eagerly buying this particular entertainment product. But, Rogue One, a standalone Star Wars film, tells a dark and foreboding tale of pagan salvation that is diametrically opposed to the Scriptures, as well as the hope of the Christmas narrative given to us in the Gospels.

In this Star Wars tale, the future of the galaxy lies, not in a Savior sent from the one true God, but in the hands of a renegade band of cosmic commandos who commission themselves to steal the design plans of the Imperial Death Star—plans which betray a critical vulnerability detailing how to annihilate the planet-sized battle station from within. These feckless saviors utilize every weapon in their arsenal, including murder and mayhem, in order to fulfill this herculean mission to ultimately deliver the galaxy from the malicious oppression of the Evil Empire once and for all.

This standalone installment fills in various storyline gaps and sets up the first segment of the original Star Wars Trilogy, A New Hope. Hope is a definite casualty following the massive carnage depicted in this motion picture. The fully operational Death Star—manned by ruthless Imperial dictators Grand Moff Tarkin and the notorious rogue Jedi Knight Darth Vader—nearly vaporizes at least two planets, along with their multitudes of inhabitants. A horribly magnificent surgical obliteration shown in its full cinematic and apocalyptic glory.

While the Rogue One team succeeds in stealing these critical plans and smuggling them to Princess Leia, the entire Rebel Alliance cast is tragically martyred for their valiant efforts, including the newest heroine to the cast Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), daughter to the reluctant scientist commissioned to create the Death Star from the beginning. Even the likeable, smart-tongued, re-programmed Imperial droid of Rebel officer Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), K-2SO, is blasted to smithereens in the last part of the film, to the sad gasps of the viewing audience. The body counts mount in this violent prequel/sequel.

Exhibit: Force-filled blind Warrior-monk Chirrut Imwe[3]
The mystical underpinnings of the Star Wars universe, the ubiquitous Force, is embodied is the blind warrior-monk, Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), who at first glance appears to be instead from the cast of The Last Samurai or the 1970s television series Kung Fu (a blind Master Po). Producers of the film made no attempt to hide his Eastern roots. Lacking a faithful Force-filled Jedi in the story, Chirrut’s character serves as the essential glue that fastens Rogue One to the rest of the Star Wars franchise.

Much of the on-screen devastation takes place the Jedha moon, home to Chirrut’s religious temple. The Rogue One director explains the “force-sacred world” of Jedha:

Director Gareth Edwards revealed some intriguing new details Lucasfilm’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In particular, he talked about the planet Jedha in the story and how it is a force-sacred world. The director explained that Jedha becomes a combat zone in the story because it is a holy land that is inhabited by people who follow the force. Edwards told EW: 

The Force is basically in Star Wars like a religion, and they’re losing their faith in the period that we start the movie. We were trying to find a physical location we could go to that would speak to the themes of losing your faith and the choice between letting the Empire win, or evil win, and good prevailing. It got embodied in this place we called Jedha. It’s a place where people who believe in the Force would go on a pilgrimage. It was essentially taken over by the Empire. It’s an occupied territory… for reasons we probably can’t reveal. There’s something very important in Jedha that serves both the Jedi and the Empire. It felt very much like something we could relate to in the real world…” 

“Within Jedha, even though there’s the oppressive foot of the Empire hanging over them, there’s a resistance that won’t give up and our characters have to go and meet people there to try and secure a person from this group. In a wider level, there must be loads of people who just believe in the Jedi and believe in the Force and have been affected by it. If it’s a really ancient religion, as Obi-Wan Kenobi said, it’s got to exist in thousands or millions of people in the galaxy.”[4][bold added]

The Force of Star Wars once again plays a prominent role in Rogue One. We have warned about the esoteric religious roots of The Force previously. The Force, and its integral connection to the martial arts and Eastern mysticism, was examined in great detail in my article series-turned-e-book, Mainstreaming the Mystic Force, which can be viewed HERE.
Download this free e-book Mainstreaming the Mystic Force HERE.

One movie reviewer expands on the warrior-monk character, Chirrut Imwe, and his intimate relationship with the Force:

There's no chance of mistaking that the Force is present in Rogue One…. A little weaker and found in fewer instances than in previous installments, the Force can luckily still be wielded by a few characters, including Chirrut Imwe. But the real question remains: Just how Force-sensitive is Chirrut in Rogue One? Next to Darth Vader, Chirrut is probably the most Force-sensitive character in Rogue One. While he is not a Jedi (the implication being the Force would be stronger within him if so), Chirrut is able to channel the Force to act as his literal compass in the world.[5][bold added, link removed]

That Chirrut is “able to channel the Force to act as his literal compass in the world” ought to alarm all Christian believers. This is nothing short of witchcraft. [See specifically Part 3 of Mainstreaming the Mystic Force, “Manipulating the Force,” pg. 36]. The Force is a demonic and impersonal rival to the very personal Holy Spirit of God, Who lives within the believer, enabling, strengthening, teaching, etc. (2 Tim. 1:14; Heb. 2:4; 1 Jn. 2:27).

Also troubling is the use of overt Buddhist methods to convert audiences over to a belief in the Force. Cleverly embedded into the screenplay dialogue of Rogue One is Chirrut’s favorite ‘Force’ mantra. A mantra is a Sanskrit word in the Hindu religion. It is a word or formula that is repeatedly chanted like an incantation or prayer. (This is also going on in the evangelical church, see HERE.)

Chirrut repetitiously recites a mantra throughout the film, which automatically becomes lodged in the viewer’s brain by the end of the movie—like a familiar song from the radio that gets stuck in your head. This serves as a dangerous spiritual chant as it becomes embedded in one's brain, especially considering what it can do to children.

This “Force sensitivity” makes Chirrut an essential, albeit short-lived, character of the film:

Destined to be one of the most iconic lines from Rogue One is Chirrut's mantra, "I am one with the Force. The Force is with me," which he chants when he is trying to center or steel himself as he enters into battle. The line is also indicative how just how Force-sensitive Chirrut truly is. This Force-sensitivity makes even more sense when you learn Chirrut is a Guardian of the Whills and a "deeply spiritual... warrior monk," per the official Rogue One website. As a Guardian, he prevents the Kyber crystals (which naturally carry the power of the Force) from being misused by others; this would explain why he can sense Jyn in the crowded market, thanks to the Kyber crystal she is wearing. 

Chirrut's role as Guardian and the sensitivity to Force-infused Kyber crystals invariably means that even though he is not a Jedi, he can use the Force when need be. Two notable times, aside from when he is able to wield a bow staff and take down dozens of Storm Troopers, include when he, Baze Malbus, and Cassian Andor are imprisoned by Saw Gerrera and Chirrut senses Bodhi Rook's energy from the cell next to theirs; Chirrut also invokes his mantra and uses the Force during the battle at Scarif, guiding him to the control panel where he flips a switch that helps Jyn transmit the Death Star plans to the Rebellion. 

It's hard to misinterpret Chirrut's Force-sensitivity as anything else, and it makes him one of the most intriguing characters in Rogue One. Although he died a glorious death, there's no way he'll be forgotten any time soon.[6][emphases added, links removed] 

Exhibit: Blind Chirrut Imwe, warrior monk in Rogue One [7]

Exhibit: “Blind” Master Po (Keye Luke) in Kung Fu
"Because a man can see, he does not look." — Master Po

Blind Master Po, from the 1970’s television series Kung Fu, was a martial arts sensei to young “Grasshopper” Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine). Po’s teaching is memorialized in a series of flashbacks by the elder Caine as he recalls his kung fu training at a Buddhist monastery run by Po, who is able to demonstrate super-human power and ability through Eastern mysticism (via the Force).[9] A pertinent quote from Po to young Caine is, “because a man can see, he does not look.” Master Po, of course, is teaching the Eastern concept of ki (chi or qi) energy (the Force) to navigate through the various battles of life. This unbiblical philosophy emphasizes an inward mystical sensing ability as opposed to a seeing objectivity with human reason and rote skill. This manipulation of the Force is vital to progression in the martial arts. [See again Part 3 of Mainstreaming the Mystic Force.]

But harnessing and wielding the Kung Fu/Star Wars Force is antithetical to Christianity.

There are few Christians hymns more memorable than John Newton’s Amazing Grace. Note the last line of this famous spiritual song (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16):

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound 
That saved a wretch like me. 
I once was lost, but now am found, 
Was blind but now I see.[10] 
The Lord Jesus Christ used the congenital blindness of a man as an object lesson to compare physical blindness to a lost spiritual condition. Only He can open unseeing eyes and save sinners from the eternal penalty of their sin by opening their spiritual eyes to see His amazing grace of salvation. When questioned by the Jewish leaders after the Lord healed and saved him, the man replied, “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see! (Jn. 9:25).

The sightless warrior-monk character of Rogue One reverses God’s grace. He remains in his blindness—both physically and spiritually—banking on the ethereal Force to direct his daily path and to ultimately protect him in the martial arts combat he encounters on a regular basis. In the end, he loses his soul as a mystical rebel martyr.
Rogue One merchandising at Amazon.com

There is no question that Rogue One is a well-crafted story replete with state-of-the art sound and visual effects sure to charm and mystify moviegoers. Troubling for the Christian believers, however, is that the dark power of this intoxicating medium embeds heretical beliefs into unsuspecting minds and hearts.

Chirrut’s blasphemous mantra: “I am one with the Force; the Force is with me” needs to be actively swept out of the thought chamber with biblical truths, such as the following verses:  

“I can do all things through Christ
which strengtheneth me.”

(Phil. 4:13) 

“I am crucified with Christ:
nevertheless I live;
yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:
and the life which I now live in the flesh
I live by the faith of the Son of God,
Who loved me,
and gave Himself for me.”

(Gal. 2:20)

At Christmastime, believers ought to be reflecting upon the birth of our gracious Savior:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
(Is. 9:6)
“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”
(Matt. 1:23)

But His humble birth had a much greater purpose. Our Lord Jesus Christ was born in a common stable just as the ancient prophets foretold, but He was destined to die on a tree to pay for the sins of mankind with His own blood (1 Pet. 2:24; Eph. 1:7; Rom. 3:25). Surely, He is the greatest gift ever given by God to His creation.

The Christmas message is full of real HOPE, love, and light—not the gloom, darkness, and futile salvation-striving offered by the Star Wars marketers.

Exhibit: Christmas manger scene[11]
 “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
for those living in a land of deep darkness,
a light has shined upon them.”

(Isaiah 9:2)

 “I am come a light into the world,
that whosoever believeth on Me
should not abide in darkness.”

(John 12:46)

[1] See Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogue_One and Star Wars.com: http://www.starwars.com/films/rogue-one
 [2] Anthony D'Alessandro, Deadline Hollywood, “‘Rogue One’ Secures $155M Opening; Has Potential To Do Near-‘Titanic’ Size Business – Weekend Postmortem,” Dec. 19, 2016; see: http://deadline.com/2016/12/rogue-one-star-wars-story-preview-box-office-social-media-1201871704/
[3] Graphic taken from the Geek Tyrant website: http://geektyrant.com/news/new-photos-and-interesting-character-details-for-star-wars-rogue-one-including-darth-vader
[4] Joey Paur, “New Details Revealed for Star Wars: Rogue One and the Force-Sacred World Jedha,”Geek Tyrant website; see: http://geektyrant.com/news/new-details-revealed-for-star-wars-rogue-one-and-the-force-sacred-world-jedha?utm_source=gametyrant.com&utm_medium=related
[5] Allie Gemmill, “Is Chirrut Force-Sensitive In 'Rogue One'? His Mantra Makes The Answer Pretty Clear,” Bustle.com; see: https://www.bustle.com/articles/200678-is-chirrut-force-sensitive-in-rogue-one-his-mantra-makes-the-answer-pretty-clear
[6] Ibid. Gemmill. 
[7] Chirrut Imwe taken from http://www.starwars.com/databank/chirrut-imwe
[8] Image taken from Classic Television Shows online; see: http://classictelevisionshows.blogspot.com/2013/04/kung-fu-everybody-was-kung-fu-fighting.html. Master Po quote from Wikipedia: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Kung_Fu_(TV_series)
[9] See Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kung_Fu_(TV_series)
[10] See Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace
[11] Graphic taken from Worship House Media online: http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/motion-backgrounds/34504/nativity-2.

Friday, December 09, 2016

The Marketing of "Jesus" Always

Just in time for the holidays! 
A "Jesus" who especially speaks to women! 

This page came up for "Jesus Always" in the Amazon.com search
By Sarah H. Leslie

Any book that puts words in the mouth of God (Jesus), other than the words of scripture, is giving those words authority they do not deserve. That is very dangerous, and it makes this a book a book no Christians should be reading. 
~Pastor Steve Hudgik, Should You RUN From Jesus Always? p. 171.

Just in time for Christmas season this year, there is a massive launching of Sarah Young's new book Jesus Always, subtitled interestingly enough Embracing JOY in His Presence. There's that word "presence" again. "Presence" appears to be the latest theme of the New Age Evangelical religion. Sarah Young's particular "Jesus" seems to especially desire that women feel his "presence". So this is how he is being advertised.

Previously we have written about the popularity of Sarah Young's books, especially this time of year. See "Merry Christmas from Sarah Young’s False Christ!" about our discernment friend Warren Smith's book Another Jesus Calling: How False Christs are Entering the Church Through Contemplative Prayer, where Smith suggests that Young’s “Jesus” sounds "more like the Grinch who stole Christmas than the man from Galilee; more like a stranger than a savior." We also examined Pastor Steve Hudgik's first book RUN! It's Jesus Calling in our review titled simply "KNOCK, KNOCK..."
Jesus is "calling" and for sale at a local KMart this holiday season

This post is a brief overview of Pastor Steve Hudgik's latest critical expose' of Sarah Young's "Jesus" who speaks in the first person in her bestselling books, Jesus Calling and Jesus Always. Pastor Hudgik's latest book is titled Should You RUN! From Jesus Always? A revealing look at the Jesus Always devotional book. Here is Pastor Hudgik's book cover where his title urges people to RUN from Sarah Young's "Jesus":
Pastor Hudgik's new book is available at Amazon.com
or http://www.notjesusalways.com

Why RUN from "Jesus"?
Just because a spirit or a voice says that he is "Jesus" doesn't mean that this is the Jesus Christ of the Bible. There are obvious problems with Sarah Young's "Jesus" and Pastor Hudgik sums them up quite succinctly:

In 2015 I wrote a book called RUN, It’s Jesus Calling warning Christians about the unbiblical nature of Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling devotional book. In October 2016 a new devotional book by Sarah Young, Jesus Always, Embracing JOY in His Presence, was released. It retains the New Age mystical messages of the original book, but does more to hide them within Christian words and beliefs. The abundance of Christian-speak serves as camouflage and the unsuspecting are unknowingly introduced to unbiblical practices and false teaching disguised as Christian truth.... (p. 1) [emphasis added]

"Jesus" is now "calling" on the radio! A Thomas Nelson ad specially marketed to women.

Pastor Hudgik proceeds to summarize his concerns about this "Jesus":

Jesus Always is a devotional that poses as a Christian book… a “shepherd” guiding Christians in the practices that promise to help them feel “closer” to Jesus. But, like Sarah Young’s first book, Jesus Calling, it is a white-washed tomb – it sounds good on the surface, but inside it is filled with death.

Jesus Calling had many obvious problems, such as "Jesus" saying things that directly contradict scripture, misunderstanding scripture, and promoting a New Age agenda. In Jesus Always it is obvious that effort has gone into making those types of errors harder to detect.

For example, Jesus Always uses an abundance of Christian phrases and terms. It talks about sin, the cross, repentance, and Biblical practices such as reading scripture. The Jesus of Jesus Always even refers to himself as “your Savior” and he “quotes” scripture frequently.

But the truth about Jesus Always comes out when you examine what this “Jesus” actually says. In many cases he doesn’t even understand what scripture is saying. He is nothing more than a poor caricature of the real Jesus. The Jesus Always devotion has the appearance of an angel of light, but it carries readers away from the true Jesus and toward unbiblical beliefs and practices. (p. 4) [emphasis added]
Graphic from Pastor Hudgik's YouTube video discussion.

In chapters 9 and 10 Pastor Hudgik outlines his concerns about Sarah Young's "Jesus" and his insistence that his readers practice "My Presence" through eastern (New Age) meditative techniques.

DON'T Trust this "Jesus"! 
Throughout his book Pastor Hudgik emphasizes the Gospel of Salvation. He contrasts the "Jesus" who speaks in Sarah Young's books and his message to the real Jesus Christ of Scripture and His message. There is a vast difference! For example, Pastor Hudgik notices that Sarah Young's "Jesus" is a touchy-feely sort of guy who can "produce real feelings of joy and peace." (p. 5) This is especially true for the large audience of his female readers who seem overly prone to his emotive proclamations. (See for example the Amazon.com Thomas Nelson marketing page for a Jesus Calling 52-Week Discussion Guide for Women.)
"Jesus" is even doing podcasts these days!
A Thomas Nelson ad marketing Sarah Young's "Jesus" to women.
If you consider that this is a false "Jesus," this ad is downright creepy!

Pastor Hudgik opens his book by immediately refuting the psycho-spiritual type of "joy" that emanates from Sarah Young's "Jesus". Pastor Hudgik reminds us that

As the book’s subtitle states, Jesus Always is about “Embracing Joy in His Presence.” So some key questions are: Why do we have joy? Where does our joy come from?

It comes from the cross of Christ. We have joy because of the cross. Because of the cross we have salvation and a promise of eternal life. Because of the cross we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who gives us joy as one of the fruits of having the Spirit....

True joy results from salvation, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, obeying God’s word, and experiencing trials. If you are not saved… if you are not a true Christian following the real Jesus, you do not have true joy. (p. 5-6)

DON'T Buy Jesus Always!
It seldom happens that such a bold statement is issued. But here is what Pastor Hudgik forthrightly states:

First, stay away from it.
Don’t read it.
Don’t buy a copy.
If someone gives you a copy, throw it away.

(p. 6)[emphasis added]

You may wonder why he makes such a strong statement at the beginning of his book. Because he backs it up. Not only does he explain what is wrong with Sarah Young's "Jesus" (in his/her books), but he also explains patiently to his readers HOW her "Jesus" is so suspiciously flawed. Pastor Hudgik uses his book to teach his readers how to discern and how to spot error. See especially his Chapter 22, which walks the reader through an exercise in discernment. (We also refer readers to Anton Bosch's new Discernment 101 teaching series.)  Pastor Hudgik informs his readers:

. . . I think you’ll still find this book useful. It not only reveals the unbiblical nature of Jesus Always, it reveals the real Jesus and what it means to truly be in His presence. It also shows how to have real joy… a joy that your circumstances cannot take away. And it will teach you how to spot false teaching. I don’t just say that Jesus Always is unbiblical, I’ll show you why it is unbiblical, and I’ll teach you principles you can apply to uncover similar false teachers and unbiblical teaching.(p. 6)

Excerpt from page 174 of Pastor Hudgik's book

DO Watch this YouTube Video
Pastor Hudgik has just finished a video based on his new book Should You RUN From Jesus Always? His video is posted on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9-JYo7xS3M
and is also available on DVD. You might not agree with everything he says, or everyone he quotes, but you will get a message about the necessity of discernment loud and clear. He provides an excellent quotation from Spurgeon:

Pastor Hudgik talks in his video about the basics of discerning truth from error by using the example of a poisoned bowl of Skittles candy.
Pastor Hudgik and the bowl full of Skittles in his YouTube video.
In his book Pastor Hudgik summarizes the problem as follows:

Imagine you have a big bowl Skittles candies. You love Skittles, but someone has put a poison pill in that bowl. To eat that poison brings certain death.

The poison pill looks similar to a Skittle. You can tell them apart, if you look closely. You want to enjoy the wonderful flavors of those Skittles, so what are you going to do? Will you:

A) Grab handfuls of Skittles from the bowl and gulp them down, enjoying the pleasure of eating Skittles.
B) Or will you slowly inspect each Skittle before you eat it, hoping to spot the poison?
C) Or will you dump the bowl down the toilet, go to the store, buy more Skittles, and then enjoy these pure Skittles with no fear of poison?

Most people who read Jesus Always have already chosen option “A,” simply because they don’t know about the poison. You know better. You have knowledge they don’t have. So if you pick anything other than option “C,” you are not making a wise choice.

Now imagine it’s worse than you thought. Many of the Skittles have been injected with poison. The bowl has more poison than it has pure Skittles. Some of the poison is easy to spot, but some of the poison Skittles look very much like pure, clean Skittles. Are you going to take a chance and eat from the bowl? No way!

This second analogy is the more accurate description of Sarah Young’s Jesus Always. It includes some scriptural truth, but there is a lot of poison. Some of it is easy to spot, but a lot of the poison is difficult to spot. Are you willing to feed your soul from this book?...

No sane person will eat food, feeding their physical body, when there is even a small risk of poisonous contamination. I hope you are not willing to eat spiritual food, when there is a risk of poisoning your soul. (p. 14)

FLEE this "Jesus" NOW!
From the expertise of my own personal background and testimony, I notice that a real danger in the false "Jesus" of Sarah Young is evidenced in the clever way he seems to be able to manipulate people's emotions and feelings. "Sarah Young's "Jesus" uses psychological methods to change people's beliefs, attitudes and even doctrines. These methods are usually used by advertisers and change agents -- see the exhibits in this post for examples. Astute discerners will take note of these tricks and avoid the sales pitches, lures and entrapment of any spirit or voice that claims to make you feel better and take all your problems away. Sarah Young's "Jesus" is marketing a new theology.
From Pastor Hudgik's YouTube video.

I'll say it again: just because a spirit or voice says he is "Jesus" doesn't make it true! In fact, it could be just the opposite! Scripture warns us that Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:13-14).

Several quotations from "Jesus" speaking in Sarah Young's book
that appear on page 96 of Pastor Hudgik's book
for illustration of the use of the actual term "training" by Sarah Young's "Jesus."

Pastor Hudgik warns of how this "Jesus" operates on page 15 of his book. He says that Sarah Young's "Jesus" voice actually admits that he is TRAINING people! Training is a psychological term that is steeped in behavior modification methodologies of stimulus-response. Sarah Young's "Jesus" stimulates your desires so you become trained to respond accordingly - in a New Age sort of way! Pastor Hudgik observes:

Jesus Always is a gateway that introduces its readers to a false New Age type of religion. The "Jesus" of Jesus Always straight out says that he is training you. What is he training you to do? To believe in and use New Age spiritual practices such as Presence, silence, contemplative (repetitious) prayer, and believing that god is in everything.(p. 15)

So not only is there harm in the false doctrine that is promulgated by Sarah Young's "Jesus," but you also need to beware of his deceitful tactics that manipulate your affections, thoughts and beliefs. This is precisely the subtlety of the devil with Eve in the Garden of Eden, a slick presentation of alternative "truths."

Another example of "Jesus" speaking soothing words.
But ask yourself: "What is 'Glory-strength'? Where is that in the Bible?"

In the exhibit above, a screen shot taken from Pastor Hudgik's video presentation, you will see just one example of the problematic voice of "Jesus." Pastor Hudgik devotes the entire Chapter 4 in his book to examining this one day devotional, June 10th. For those who want a practical exercise in how to discern, this is a perfect chapter to read. Pastor Hudgik examines the biblical error and notes the clever mis-use of Scriptural language and passages (see especially the fascinating observations he makes on page 33). Note the psycho-spiritualizing tactics going on and how seductively encouraging these words might feel to someone who is struggling. Hence it is no wonder that these books by Sarah Young are especially marketed to women. You can read something like this and still feel good about yourself without having to confess any sin or repent:

For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
(2 Tim. 3:6-7)
From page 97 of Pastor Hudgik's book
more examples of the use of the term "training" by Sarah Young's "Jesus."
If you realize this is a false "Jesus" speaking these statements are scary.

On page 54 of his book Pastor Hudgik provides his readers with a handy "Quick Test" for discerning:

TRUST Jesus Christ
Pastor Hudgik's book is a good resource for people who are struggling with how to avoid the upcoming holiday marketing blitz of Sarah Young books. Her "Jesus" is a popular best-seller:
An exhibit in Pastor Hudgik's his YouTube video

Here is how to discern the real Jesus Christ from the "Jesus" who speaks through Sarah Young in her books:

Excerpt from page 181 of Pastor Hudgik's book.

Both of Pastor Hudgik's books are available on Amazon.com. More information, and sample chapters from both books, are available on the www.JesusAlways.us (or www.NotJesusAlways.com) web site.
Pastor Hudgik's first book about Sarah Young's "Jesus"
available at Amazon.com

Thursday, December 01, 2016

The Bethel Church Upgrade

Unholy Signs & Cash Flows

Bethel's example of Church working with Corporate and State

By Pastor Rod Page

“I dedicate this book to my children’s children’s children’s children. Though we will not meet until we get to heaven, I wanted you to know that I had you in mind as I wrote every word of this book, and I continue to hold you in my heart. You will become the answer to my prayers and the fulfillment of my prophecies. By the time you read this book, I will be watching you from heaven (see Hebrews 12: 1).[1] 

This quotation above is the opening dedication to Kris Vallotton's upgraded book called Heavy Rain. Its former title was How Heaven Invades Earth. At the outset it sounds like a way to soften, or even spiritualize, the more militant sounding “invade” language in his book from six years ago. I believe this change is part of a new effort to say the same thing in a more sophisticated, and yet more palatable, way in order to attract a wider audience. 

In this day and age where everything is seen from a marketing standpoint, as far as publishers and agents and business in general, it is no surprise that this would happen from within the headquarters of a now worldwide movement—Bethel Church in Redding, California. 

I am writing this from Redding as it is the closest city to where we live for groceries and doctors. It is also where I lived for several years. It's a pretty typical town in most aspects, with a Costco and an old converted theater downtown, and a mix of working people and retired folks looking for the sun.... It is even sunnier in Redding than Phoenix!

But Redding is actually quite special in regard to what is happening in Christendom. A phenomenon has grown up here. There is something almost “magical” about the effect that Bethel has had on this community. The city has fallen in love with this “church”. Is this even possible in our day of hysteria over “separation of church and state”? It is not separate in Redding. Bethel bailed out the Civic Auditorium and is running it well from all indications. Bethel is also becoming a major property owner. They have bought and improved several commercial properties and hope to increase their School of Supernatural Ministry to 3000 students in the next few years. (It is currently around 1400.) They want to build a museum of revival in Americana and have spent around $40,000 to purchase one man's memorabilia collection of articles from major “moves of God” going back into the 1950s.

Bethel is growing while the city of Redding has endured a decline in many facets. Crime is up. The housing market is flat at best. Homelessness is rampant. But Bethel is doing really well. I believe they know why. I think they have discovered a secret to moving forward at this time in their history. Before I get back to this subject let met tell you why I am writing this report. 

The Bethel "cash flow" agenda, cited HERE

Why I Write 
Before becoming a full time pastor in 2011 I spent over 30 years being a regular Christian, with a regular secular job, raising a family with my wife of 37 years. Before we moved to Redding we attended a church for 10 years beginning in 1994 in Yuba City, California. We noticed after almost 7 years in that church that the teaching was changing. We heard things that shocked us, but because of intense loyalty to the leadership we tried to justify things we should have checked out immediately. We were told that spiritual warfare was calling out demons by name and defeating them in the atmosphere, and thus allowing our city to have a mass revival. We were told it was always God's will for us to be physically well. We were told our children were a chosen seed to bring in the great harvest of all time—that they would do miracles greater than Jesus or the Apostles. These things came in slowly, like a steady drip. We were told that Christians have demons that need to be cast out. We were to go on “prayer walks” that would run the devil out of neighborhoods and out of families as we took dominion over our city.

The problem is it didn't work, and we could not find a good Biblical reason to swallow all of this new teaching. Young people would go to the church's new “discipleship” school and come out on the other end bewildered by a lack of power, not blaming the leaders who taught them but God, who they thought did not keep up His end of the bargain. We looked at our Bibles and saw texts that were clearly meant for the next world being brought into ours, with no concept for context or proper Biblical interpretation.

It took us almost 3 years to realize we needed to get back to the Bible. Then we found the Discernment Ministries’ Herescope blog (www.herescope.net). God led us to this small cadre of folks who had been writing for years about different new teachings, that were really old things wrapped up in new and upgraded lingo. As Solomon says, there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9).

Then, because of a job, and a ministry opportunity to take what we were finding about Satan's schemes and warn younger believers, we moved to Redding to start a new job and work with a couple we thought truly were wanting to warn others. Sadly, within a year we found out we were not on the same page with the very people we were supposed to serve with. Shortly after this we began to attend a church where the Bible was taught verse by verse. God put us away in His waiting room where we could get our thoughts and hearts in line with His precious Word.

We began to serve the Lord in humble but useful ways. We helped clean the church each week, emptying waste cans and vacuuming the carpet. Later we taught Sunday School. We truly had many glorious times with our 4th grade class teaching through the entire Bible line upon line. Eventually I was asked to teach in place of the pastor when he was out of town. We were asked to shepherd a part of the congregation and had a “home group” of over 40 people in our home each month. What I found in those days was that God is gracious. When we seek Him and His ways for His glory, He provides all we need. His Word has the answers we need to communicate. We don't need to make up anything fancy to attract attention to it.

I had heard the Lord calling me to ministry when I was 12 years old. I had, because of fear, chosen not to follow His call for many years. Finally at 50 years of age I answered that call. I began to seek the Lord, and asked others to pray with me about going into full time work. I assumed it would be in a ministry to young people, as that was the reason I moved to Redding. I wanted to warn them of what the enemy was trying to do, both within the church and without it. After another year of waiting, just when I began to give up, an opportunity came as the Lord opened up a door for ministry. I have been serving as pastor at a small community church in Lewiston, California, ever since. I live within 35 miles of Redding in the mountains. God is gracious indeed. It is the hardest, and yet most fulfilling job, I have ever had.

But Bethel is still a thorn. I suppose it reminds me of what happened to us in Yuba City. But it is far worse. It is a leader, a worldwide and dominant leader, in a movement rife with error. This is grievous to me personally because it goes after, and actually targets, young people in a huge way. This is why I write. These young people (and old people, too) are precious to our Savior. This movement is swallowing them in ways I never could have imagined even 6 years ago when I lived within a mile of Bethel Church. This church is more sophisticated and more “excellent” in an alarming way. 

Kris Vallotton, Sept. 14, 2016 (source)

The New Upgrade 
A few weeks ago I listened to a message by Kris Vallotton, who is the number two leader at Bethel. Kris is known for saying things that are edgy and even shocking. What struck me about his “message” was the new angle of reasonability and normalcy that it seemed to emulate. Back when the “Toronto Blessing” was inundating congregations with outlandish barking and howling, and people falling out in gatherings, where “holy laughter” was taught as a new thing that the Spirit was doing, Bethel embraced it whole hog. (Pun intended.) At that time in early 1996 there was a mass exodus from Bethel church. They went from two services on Sundays to one. But within a couple of years they began to grow again. Like other churches they didn't divorce themselves from the teachings behind the manifestations. Instead they changed the outward appearances to be more settled, more reasonable, more attractive. (Although I would say that there still are, and always will be, outlandish worship activities that are nothing but sensual in nature and do not bring glory to God within their meetings, it is just not as “out there” as it used to be.)

This new upgrade season, that is indicated by Kris Vallotton's recent message, is just one in a series of attempts to bring legitimacy to a movement that I believe wants to be believable and acceptable, not only to their peers within the charismatic world, but even wider into the evangelical world as well. In the end, I think they want to impress the world around them. They believe they already are a “city on a hill” and that they are defeating the “religious spirit” of the old way of doing Christianity. If you would like to see the documentation and history of Bethel Church, and others they are connected to in the New Apostolic Reformation, there is much written on this movement on Herescope's website. By the way, in Kris' upgraded book titled Heavy Rain, C. Peter Wagner (New Apostolic Reformation) gives a hardy endorsement. For more information on Wagner search Herescope as well.

Let me illustrate my point with some quotes from Kris' message, “God, Government, and Prosperity.”[2] 
Promoting the bringing of Heaven to Earth (Source)

On Earth Now
Upgrade #1 - Being More “Biblical” 
In his opening prayer Kris says, “God make a message out of this mess.” But in mixing together “God, Government and Prosperity” he begins in Matthew 28:18 where Jesus says, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” We believe it is given to Christ alone in that passage. But Kris says, “In Heaven and on earth would have been a revelation to the Hebrews, but not just in heaven, if he had left out on earth.” What Kris is implying is that we in our day have been restored to some kind of dominion over the earth in a physical aspect. We are now Lords of the earth, and we must take control of it, as if this is why Jesus came—not to deal with sin, but to restore our rulership over this planet. The evangelical church has always argued this is to be a reality, but only during the millennium after Jesus returns. Kris, however, is advocating for “Kingdom Now” type theology, but it seems kinder and more “reasonable.” In reality it is the same old thing.

He then says since we were made in God's image we are already “like God.” In Kris's eyes we were little gods, but through our failure in the garden, we lost our god likeness. He believes we lost our authority over the earth, so that Jesus had to go into hell sometime during the crucifixion and take back the keys of authority from the devil. Kris is saying that we have those keys, and that this somehow means we are not to make disciples of the people of the nations but we are to make disciples of “the nations” (countries). This is an astronomical jump in logic!

There is a big difference here from the plain teaching of the New Testament. Jesus said clearly, in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” He said this standing in front of Pilate. If the kingdom was coming in a physical form, why didn't Jesus say, “But in a few hours I will take the elevator down to hell and steal those pesky keys from the devil and then you will see my disciples fight and win!” In fact, we are never told to fight in a fleshly or carnal way. In the Garden of Gethsemane Peter was commanded to put away his sword. Now the only weapon we have is the revealed Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit. Even with ourselves we don't sledge hammer the sin out of ourselves with whips or chains as the Romans Catholics are obliged to do. We take every thought captive with truth, making it obey Christ with the spiritual power and true authority we have, based on the Word and the faith once delivered to us, the saints. Our spiritual blessing in heaven is ours, but that leaves off many physical blessings that will be ours in the kingdom to come.
ElijahList advertisement for Vallotton's book, 6/10/11

Kris loves to spin this old idea of us being little gods, and that being restored to dominion through the keys or the tabernacle of David equals us being restored to dominion in some mystical kind of way. And then, as a result of being restored, having a power ministry as we speak physical realities into existence—all the while calling this methodology “faith” and “power.” They call anyone who does not go along with it all an “another Gospel” proponent. (In fact, Bill Johnson has made the same allegation about all who don't major in miracles and so- called power evangelism.)

Kris makes an upgrade claim right away in his talk. He says that the Muslims are running five nations and Christians are taking dominion over zero nations. All of my Christian friends and colleagues deplore what ISIS is currently doing. But we look at the situation from a totally different perspective. Jesus said that the world would hate us. In fact, He says that evil men would wax worse and worse, up to the very point when He returns. Those that “disciple” nations are bound to fail. Yet Kris demands (and is not below using shame manipulation) that we capture nations and governments for God, and that if we don't we are failures and God's hands are tied.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is blasphemy! Though I fully believe in man's free will and responsibility for his actions, I believe that God, too, has a plan and is executing and using our free choices to bring out His glory-filled end to the existence of this planet and its inhabitants. We play a part, but that will never change God's ultimate plan to bring about the completion of His prophetic Word.
Bethel Church has an outward form of power. They talk about power, write about power and blog about it all day. Their meetings are “powerful” in the realm of music and lighting, drama and artistic creativity. All these things are outward forms. This is the root meaning behind the exact description of the end times apostate church movement described in 2 Timothy 3. After describing perilous times where the culture is in deep bondage to sin, and is described as lovers of themselves (Kris loves to say about his own preaching, “That is a really good word”), lovers of money (Bethel is a money machine, as are most connected ministries and churches in their sphere), boasters, proud, blasphemers, etc., the aging apostle Paul says in verse 5, “having a form of godliness, but denying its power.” True godliness has a spiritual power that defeats sin and brings about holiness, sincerity, humility, and an ability to powerfully proclaim the Gospel in word and deed. A holy life is a powerful life, not a life that twists the promises of God meant for a future time and holds the church hostage with a carrot of constantly changing new things, paradigms, methodologies, and new signs and wonders.

Bethel is saying the same things they and others have been saying since the Latter Rain movement was hatched in 1949, which was soundly refuted by leaders of the Assemblies of God who found it to be spurious and extra-biblical in nature. No “wonder” that Bethel Church broke away from the AOG ten years ago last January. They wanted no real oversight.

Kris Vallotton is speaking the same message that other false teachers have been speaking for at least 68 years. It is nuanced now and made to sound more “biblical.” He quotes from Romans 4:17, saying, “Abraham is not the father of Israel, but the father of nations.” He says this means we are to be fathering nations—that if the church does not father, lead or commandeer (I suppose) the nations, we are not following in Father Abe's steps, as he believes the New Testament teaches. (The New Testament does not, of course, teach this.) Missing the whole point of the reality, the beauty and the majesty of the revelation in Romans about the wonder of our salvation and the righteousness imputed to us by faith, seen in its root form all the way back to Abraham—having missed all that truth for a silly and obtuse vision of a mighty Joel's army now taking dominion by “fathering” nations, Kris devolves into error. But he is attempting an “upgrade” here. He is attempting to be seen as more Biblical so he can drag unsuspecting denominations and individual churches and precious people of God, along with weak-willed, unskilled and struggling Christians into his camp of error. Using Kris' perspectives, you will never come to a knowledge of the truth because you are being tricked by a “form of godliness” that has no power. (See 2 Timothy 3:5-9 please!)
I remember the first time I opened a book by a Bethel leader, titled When Heaven Invades Earth by Bill Johnson. I remember the tremendous emphasis, not on the Word of God, but on word of faith, on signs and wonders and so- called power ministry. Now, it seems, they are countering criticism for their neglect of the teaching of God's Word in their church, and are trying to gain acceptance by quoting more verses of the same Bible that they have seriously dissed for years. I have been to their meetings and seen firsthand that most attendees do not even carry a Bible with them because they don't need it very often. Usually they “worship” for an hour or so. Then someone comes and starts with the Bible, and then it is time to share the “new thing God is doing,” which includes testimonies of so-called
miracles and signs and wonders.

I believe in the present work of the Holy Spirit in the earth. I believe in miracles and have experienced them. I believe some have a gift of faith and I have witnessed it being used for the glory of God. But I believe that anything we have or know can be turned into an idol or, at the least, an obsession. Bethel obsesses over miracles. Bill Johnson for years has modeled this emphasis. It is the modus operandi of his church. Kris Vallotton and all the other leaders of the movement have to fall in line or they are out. Nothing has changed at Bethel but they are talking slightly different now.... trying their best to put a Biblical stamp of approval on their tired theories and “new” ideas, many of which have more roots in the New Age movement than in the Gospel of Jesus.

I know these are tough words. They are not meant to be tough but to wake up some. One of the problems with Bethel saying the same thing over and over and over is that people get used to it, and are worn down, and then begin to accept it. Many have in Redding—the numbers don't lie— Bethel is getting bigger and their influence is growing throughout the world. I am concerned and must warn the flock to beware. Do not listen to strung-together verses pulled out of their proper interpretation by those who don't care if it is properly preached, but care more that their agenda is accomplished. Don't be made captive to false teaching, no matter how normal it may sound, by those who use flattery or sophisticated behavioral techniques to deliver their message.

Kris Vallotton says that we are children of Abraham so that all the promises given to him are ours. Is that true in a physical sense? Does everyone who comes to Christ by faith have a baby of promise? God told Abraham he would have a son, but not everyone has a baby, and some have only girls. I know that sounds silly, but is it sillier to make such a blanket statement like Kris does at every turn in his message? Abraham was a rich man. Is every Christian blessed in that way? It sounds good to those who are anxiously wanting physical blessing to be poured out on their failing business, or their empty nursery, but it is false on its face. It is not good doctrinal teaching that accords godliness. I am reminded of this timeless truth from 1 Timothy 6: 3-6: 

“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. Now godliness with contentment is great gain.” 

Years ago Bill Johnson was not content with his faith. He had been to John Wimber's place and saw some miracles and realized all he had was “doctrine.” He spent the next several years trying to find the power. He ended up at Toronto and “found it.” It split his church in two as people began barking, howling and crawling on the floor, and calling it worship. But he says it was worth it. I don't think it was. I think it possibly shipwrecked his faith. It certainly has done that for many. I have personally watched many young people be in this movement for a few years but come out so disgusted, and so let down, and so confused that they give up and fall headlong into the world. It has affected some who are very close to me like that. It is because of this that I cry out for discernment in these last days. I am not the only one. There are a few others, and though it is not “cost effective” to speak out, we must. Some think we are just mean or old or jealous. Those are unjust charges. The Old Testament prophets had similar opposition. They were told to prophesy “smooth things,” but they could not because God had not told them to. They had to say the truth. It was a fire in them that boiled with holy zeal. That sounds exciting, but it is indeed a heavy burden to bear. God's Word is being tampered with. It is being used to say things it was never meant to say. Far from being more biblical, though they may appear so to their following, Bethel church continues to move away from the Bible.

In the message by Kris Vallotton, he admits openly that he doesn't like the book of Leviticus. All the killings bother him. Yet it is the death of the Lamb of God that is pointed to in that book. Every lamb points to Jesus and the atonement for sin. But that is not the point of Bethel. The Gospel of the precious blood of Jesus is not the focus of their outreaches or their expansions or of their school. They call it revival, but can there ever be true revival without confession? Is redemption possible without teaching Christ’s blood being spilled? No. It is a waste of time. A biblical church teaches the whole counsel of God. Bill Johnson refuses to answer questions that come from the book of Job, as though sickness is not a reality in a fallen world, because he teaches it is always God's plan to heal everything. This is not a biblical church at all. God's Word deals with all of life, and all of the affects of sin, and still points us to Jesus who died for us a violent death so we may have life eternal. There will be a day when all will be made right but it is not this day. 
Kris Vallotton - "Your Identity as Sons of God" (Source)
The Bold Eschatology - 
Upgrade #2 
Kris Vallotton has been saying for some time that he refuses to accept an eschatology that says things have to get worse in order for Jesus to return. To Kris' credit he loves the story of Joseph. But what he likes so much is that Joseph “profited Potiphar's house.” “If you put a prince in a prison it will become a palace,” he says. He then goes on to dreams and declares, “Pharaoh is dreaming again.” He says Joseph knew how to interpret dreams because “Joseph was raised in a dreaming family, having been taught the supernatural ways of God.” Then he says again, “Pharaoh is dreaming again and the world is dreaming again.” God is not lifted up, but the dreamer is. He says that the light is turned on in a room, but we don't come in the room to look at the light, but you come in to “see.” Friends, the Light is what we are to look at. Jesus is the Light of the world. Kris is teaching that self-realization is the goal. Seeing what is around us is the most important thing to him—so we can “see” the dreams. He says, “If we don't dream then the world dies.” In his eschatology, then, it is all dependent on us. We will save the world if we dream. You must hang with the dreamers here at Bethel, he is implying.

He then moves to the prophecies of Jesus being king in Isaiah 9. This is where he builds his “eschatology now” doctrine. He rips partial verses from the context of the Bible and declares that God's government is on earth now, in our time. He also declares that God is not “ashamed of humanity” because “His shoulders” are us. Secondly, he says that the government now is increasing and we must advocate for this increase. You might think he means to advocate for a spiritual increase of God's kingdom. But, there is a bait and switch coming. He leaps from God ruling in His people to talking about government that “actualizes your personhood.” This sounds like the liberal politicians and psychologists today, as though the government is responsible for making us fully developed people. That is not what Isaiah teaches at all. That is not even good American talk. He is emphasizing a New Age idea, right in the middle of a precious part of God's Word. He has not studied prophecy apparently. He does not realize that God does things in different periods of time. There are two comings, not just one, Kris. Maybe that is why, in another book of the Bible that he does not like, he has not taken this to heart: Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 says: 

“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal”

From here Kris continues to “build” an eschatology where he simply justifies the governmental take over, albeit in an altruistic sense, of the “spheres” of the society (i.e., dominion), by people and movements and churches like himself. His case in point is that Bethel is running the Civic Auditorium in Redding.[3] This sounds like it is just the beginning of many “good things” to come. “Great government empowers you,” he says, as though an empowered unsaved person is still a good thing. He then points to Korea as a great illustration of why government is the answer. It is a false argument because he holds up democracy in the south as some kind of an endgame for the church's mission. The only difference is “government” he says. But more government is what has doomed the north, not less. If South Korea is better it is because of “less” government, as we have proved in our own country. But he says, “Government is powerful and meaningful.”

Vallotton then goes on to twist his dominion theology into a misplaced understanding of Isaiah 61, going beyond what Jesus read as He began His ministry there in Nazareth. Jesus stopped reading at exactly the point where He intended to because the rest is for a later time. Read Luke 4:18-20 where Jesus closed the book exactly where it needed to be closed for now. In Kris' eschatology, there is no need for heaven because through Christians taking dominion over the “spheres” of society we can bring it down now. Look at their website, www.ibethel.org. “Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” is their motto. What they mean is for the Kingdom to come now, exactly in all of its fulfillment, NOW! It is not according to the timing that God has set forth, but according to Bethel's understanding—ALL FOR NOW!

Is this a place we want to send our children or grandchildren in order to learn the supernatural ways of God? No, this is natural, fleshly, and is man centered.[4] Kris says, “I don't know what your eschatology says, but mine says that ‘God cares about cities.’” Does He? Doesn't He care about individual people in the cities? Isn't it better to be accurate when we make blanket statements? Does God care about sidewalks or paths people take to class at the Shasta College, like Kris declares in his illustration about how we should be smart as we govern every part of our society? This is pragmatism and “kingdom now” theology married together! It is silly talk.

There is no Gospel here except the gospel of man. “Your job when you get well is to help everyone else get well,” Kris confidently asserts. The question is, “Well, from what?” If he were talking about getting well from sin through the shed blood of the cross of Christ, I would be all in for that. But he is talking about the ills of society, and that is just not deep enough to be called Bible! That does not go far enough. That is only scraping the surface and does nothing for the soul of man to be truly well. There is no cure for society in this age, but there is a cure for sin found only in the finished work of Christ at Calvary where He willingly poured out His precious blood for atonement for sin. God is angry with man and his sin but He placed that wrath on Jesus for our sakes. But if we don’t receive that gift we are under condemnation. That is the simple Gospel. It is a good news of love, but it cost our Savior His very life as foretold by all those sacrifices of old, in Leviticus.

1 Timothy 4 is an explicit warning for our times. It is opposed to the cozy picture that Bethel Church preaches that is couched in hope of their “kingdom now” type eschatology. I must end share this warning in hopes that
some caught in this movement will hear its words: 

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times
some will depart from the faith,
giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,
speaking lies in hypocrisy,
having their own conscience seared with a hot iron
. (1 Timothy 4:1-2) 

Bill Johnson with leading 7 mountain dominion advocate Lance Wallnau

Years ago a friend of mine developed throat cancer. He had a family and a wife and was in the prime of his life. He loved to serve the church we attended by doing practical help for anyone who was in need. If a car needed repair, he would find a way to fix it. If someone needed a ride, he provided it. He loved the Lord and yet he got very sick. Our church at that time declared that he would recover—that God had told them he would beat the cancer. It did not happen that way. My friend died from the cancer, an agonizing death witnessed by his kids and wife and by all of us. A few months afterwards we were talking with some friends who happened to also be on the church staff. They told us that my friend had given up the battle and his lack of faith was the reason he died. Those words burned in me. They disgusted me. They maligned my friend’s memory and character. The church had lied.

Likewise, Bethel is lying today when it says the same types of things. If you look closely at the leadership there, they are living a lie. They are living a lie in hypocrisy because their current pastor needs glasses and the son of the pastor is still deaf. So whose fault is this in their scheme of things? People in Redding and at Bethel get cancer and still get sick, so is the problem with God or with their faith... or with Bethel’s defective teaching?

Budweiser furthers the kingdom agenda?!
The ends justify the means in dominion theology.
In 2016 Kris Vallotton rewrote a book from 2010 because he said it was now more relevant than ever. In this book he talks extensively about how the church has failed at transforming society, and how his church has begun to succeed at it. I want to conclude this exposė of Bethel Church’s “upgrade” with a direct quote from Kris’ book and a screenshot (above) from their website. (Notice the advertisement for beer!) Upcoming events at the Redding Civic Auditorium are referenced in the quote below. My question for the reader to ask is this: what does any of this have to do with the Gospel mandate that Jesus so clearly gave in Matthew 28? Is this the “new” goal of Christianity? What government role should the church “take over” next? What further compromises in content and marketing will the church make in order to win the praise of the public and government officials? 

Here is the quote from Vallotton’s book:
“We wanted to run the Redding Convention Center the same way our students beautified our city. Our goal was to make it an excellent experience for everyone who came into the building. We spent $500,000 remodeling the building and installing a state-of-the-art ticket system. We replaced all the seats, installed a new sound system and remodeled the entire interior of the building. We hired an almost entirely new staff, employing only friendly people who had a heart for excellence. It took us two long years to learn the entertainment business, but we were passionate about getting it right. At first we lost money on many of the shows. To make matters worse, in our zeal to make sure the venue stayed secular and not “Christian,” we booked some acts that were pure filth... actually nearly porn. At times things were tough, but we knew we had to climb or die. For the first two years, the community (led by the media) scrutinized everything we did and cut us no slack. But as time went on, their fear of a ‘religious takeover’ evaporated in light of the obviously improved experience our community was having in the convention center. We were hosting as many shows and events as ever, while still meeting the needs of our school there. In our third year of managing the building, we finally began to win the praise of our community. In fact, many of the people who had protested against us that night at the city council meeting came back and apologized to our team. And our city manager and his team have since said openly, ‘This is the best the convention center has been run in 43 years!’”

Where is the truth in all of this? 
It is found in God's Word. It is found in the true God of the Bible and not in god we make according to our own dreams and desires. It's found in the One who has given us His Spirit through the new birth in Christ, who will lead us into all truth. It is found in churches that, though they may be small and are certainly not perfect, are preaching and living the whole counsel of God in humility and by His power. It is found in the holy lives of the people of God who seek not the glory of an earthly kingdom but who are waiting for this one: 

But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.
Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God,
for He has prepared a city for them
Hebrews 11:16)

Much more can be said about this movement that is Bethel Church. Though it is constantly upgrading its message to bring more and more people and churches into its orbit, please beware of the dangers in its teaching. The “upgrade” is really a downgrade—a sophisticated and well- marketed ploy to repackage the old Latter Rain heresy of the 1940s that has roots deep in the darkness of the old Gnostics that were plaguing the church at the time the New Testament was being written. Certainly the preacher of Ecclesiastes was right: “there is nothing new under the sun.” 

Do not let anyone lead you astray to anything less than the glorious truths found in God's Word, even if it sounds innovative and relevant, and has really good music high up on the iTunes charts (Bethel’s rock group Jesus Culture). Keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith! Keep looking up for your redemption draws nigh! Beware, beware, beware and don’t settle for anything less! 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time
(1 Peter 1:3-5)

THE KINGDOM DOMINION (physically) WILL BELONG TO THE LORD at His glorious return! 
I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed. 

 (Daniel 7:13-14)

Then the seventh angel sounded:
And there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
“The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms
of our Lord and of His Christ,
and He shall reign forever and ever!”

(Rev. 11:15)

1. Vallotton, Kris, (2016-08-02),
Heavy Rain: How to Flood Your World with God's Transforming Power, published by Chosen Books - From the Introduction of the Kindle Edition. Emphasis added.
2. Link is https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/bethel-church-sermon-week/id76583739?mt=2&i=374737430
3. Screen shot of Convention Center article photo is from:
4. Herescope articles about Bethel, Jesus Culture, its youth movement, and its popularity in evangelicaldom include http://herescope.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-significance-of-youth-filled.html. Also see: the associated article at: http://apprising.org/2013/01/02/louie-giglio-passion-2013-and-jesus-culture/ and the 6 part series that begins here: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-passion-of-presence.html 

This article was originally in the Discernment Newsletter, Vol. 27, No. 4, Sept./Oct. 2016. It is reproduced here in its entirety with additional graphic exhibits supplied by the author, Pastor Rod Page, with comments. Other exhibits added by the editor for the purpose of documentation.